Fleet Files #18: New Room, New View

With Full Gear complete, AEW looks towards a new era, even heading to TBS in the new year. First though, they have another month or so to navigate, concluding some stories while getting the pieces in place for others. Some of the promotion’s top stars suddenly have a clean slate, awaiting the emergence of a new arc or conflict in the coming weeks. As I said last time, this series will be ending at the year’s close but there’s still time for the league table to shift as we look for our first and only Fleet Files winner.

Match of the Week

This speaks for itself, the week’s ten best matches. 1 point for the ten spot, 2 for the ninth and upward from there.

  1. TNT Title: Sammy Guevara (c) vs. Jay Lethal – Dynamite #111

Considering last week’s introduction, I’m not really rushing to praise one half of this match but again, I’ll conclude this series in the fashion that I started it. With that in mind, this was indeed a strong television main event and furthermore, an excellent debut for the challenger. With the American Top Team bickering now surely nearing its end, hopefully Guevara can continue his TNT Title reign with more matches of this ilk.

2. Nyla Rose vs. Hikaru Shida – Dynamite #111

A timely reminder of their established chemistry, this was a real triumph in my view. It’s been great to have Hikaru Shida back on TV and though she’s lost two of her most recent matches, the former champion feels more compelling than ever in my view. Though it’s been overstated elsewhere, wins and losses certainly aren’t everything and Shida’s recent vulnerable only makes her fighting spirit more engaging. Opposite her, Nyla Rose really delivered here in my view, restating her credentials for the division’s top tier.

3. Jurassic Express vs. Adam Cole & Bobby Fish – Rampage #15

The main event of an admittedly frustrating Rampage for me personally, this built on the base that Jade Cargill vs. Red Velvet provided, producing an impressive main event. The story itself wasn’t exactly necessary, just reiterating last week’s conclusion but overall, the execution made it worthwhile. Again, Bobby Fish has been tremendous since arriving in AEW, really bringing his own rough and tough edge to the role of veteran gatekeeper.

4. Dante Martin & Lio Rush vs. The Acclaimed – Dynamite #111

After a merely steady first half, this exploded into something quite spectacular down the stretch. The Acclaimed are an interesting team, as they appear to wrestle somewhat with their stylistic approach. As a stooging heel team, I find them rather unremarkable but when it’s time to trade moves and up the pace, Bowens’ natural assets really come to the fore. In truth though, this was about Dante Martin and Lio Rush, an already wonderful act that I’d like to challenge the Lucha Bros as soon as possible.

5. Orange Cassidy & Tomohiro Ishii vs. The Butcher & The Blade – Dynamite #111

This wasn’t anything special, but man did I have fun. Tomohiro Ishii has been one of the last decade’s most reliable in-ring performers, New Japan’s bruising but brilliant mainstay. Overall, this was a nice showcase of who he is, even if slightly restrained for obvious reasons. Even still, I loved Ishii’s portions of this match, especially as he backed down The Butcher from one corner to the other. Just good TV wrestling, all with the twist of a Tomohiro Ishii sighting, strong stuff.

C-Show Stealer

With only three places as a lesser category, this is a nod to AEW’s more subdued C-Show titans. They missed out on match of the week, but entertained regardless.

  1. Kris Statlander, Riho & Ryo Mizunami vs. Emi Sakura, Nyla Rose & The Bunny – Dark #117

This was honestly awesome, which is no mean feat considering my admitted fatigue with these matchups. It’s strange, I enjoy them all but they’ve definitely been excessive as of late and yet, this one still managed to stand out. Just a wonderful mix of styles on display, with all involved maximising their minutes.

2. The Hardy Family Office vs. The Dark Order – Dark Elevation #37

I’m already a sucker for these trios bouts but I must say, this has to be The Dark Order’s strongest trio without using John Silver himself. Angels, Uno and Stu were incredible here, especially late, and had the ideal C-Show foes in the infamous HFO.

3. The Acclaimed vs. The Dark Order – Dark #117

To me, this is the ideal version of AEW’s C-Show programming. Here, we have a steady television match that due to the promotion’s loaded roster, doesn’t really belong on television. Perfect, with Alan Angels and Colt Cabana proving themselves to be an unsurprisingly entertaining Dark Order duo.

The Promo Pack

The second of our three A-categories, this award also quite literally speaks for itself, the promotion’s five best verbal offerings.

  1. Bryan Danielson – Dynamite #111

What a treat this was, ‘The American Dragon’ Bryan Danielson being a big ol’ dick on national television. Armed with a new champion and his home crowd, Danielson relished the opportunity to heel it up, cutting a wonderfully arrogant promo. I don’t think this presentation is here to stay beyond the Page programme itself, but I’ll love every minute while it’s here.

2. MJF – Dynamite #111

Though his work live was good also, this rating is really earned by MJF’s post-match promo after the clash with Darby Allin. AEW seldom airs these kind of efforts but thank goodness we got this one, as it was one of MJF’s finest outings yet. The content can be divisive and has limited my enjoyment previously, but MJF has been quite remarkable as of late.

3. Hangman Adam Page – Dynamite #111

Though not quite as aggressively brilliant as his counterpart in this particular segment, I still loved Hangman Adam Page’s fire on Dynamite. It was all simple stuff, AEW’s take on the standard TV opening and yet, the execution on both sides ensured that this got rave reviews. Page’s confidence is striking, almost as palpable as the connection he shares with this audience.

4. Eddie Kingston – Dynamite #111

As I’ve said before, Eddie Kingston doesn’t need much TV time, just a constant presence will do the trick. This week, ‘The Mad King’ took about 30 seconds to establish a new conflict, capturing our interest in a brief but fiery promo exchange with Daniel Garcia. When you have Kingston’s authenticity and commitment, the content can range in quality, but the result stays the same.

5. Malakai Black – Dynamite #111

I really do love these Malakai Black pre-tapes, which makes my relative disinterest all the more frustrating. Black’s delivery is honestly immense, and these always have their own flavour completely but yet, the actual story itself lost me long ago. It’s a real shame and for everyone involved, this thing will finally conclude in the coming weeks.

Squashes to See

Good television wrestling needs many ingredients, but it never forgets the squash matches. Here are the week’s three funniest showcase bouts.

  1. Bryan Danielson vs. Evil Uno – Dynamite #111

Yes, this is probably cheating, but I think it’s worthwhile. After Dynamite’s opening segment, this wasn’t the time for Bryan Danielson to have a friendly wrestling match with Evil Uno though in truth, I feared that he still would anyway. Instead, Danielson basically battered Uno, all with a spiteful nastiness too. Not really a squash, but Danielson’s most one-sided match yet and that’s enough for me.

2. Ruby Soho vs. Hyan – Dark #117

Though I’m very much ready for her return to big time television wrestling, I can’t overstate how content I am watching Ruby Soho in this setting. This match was basically just Ruby hitting her signature moves, soaking up another hero’s welcome and kicking ass. Ideal, this formula still works for me.

3. Powerhouse Hobbs vs. Jaysin Strife – Dark #117

The usual from Powerhouse Hobbs here, and the usual will always be enough for some kind of squash match ranking, especially considering his new Torture Rack finish.

The Fleet Five

Our third and final A-category, The Fleet Five is simple, the promotion’s five best performers of that particular week. All the above decides this, so it’s a big one.

  1. Sammy Guevara

Though he’s yet to miss inside the ropes, Sammy Guevara has had a slightly frustrating TNT Title reign thus far. The Inner Circle reunion took centre stage for ultimately, an inconsistent PPV feud with American Top Team. That’s fine, but Guevara now needs to stand alone and with that in mind, this week was an absolute smash hit. Guevara isn’t often listed as one of the promotion’s standout workers but he sure is consistent, again proving on Dynamite that he can reliably close any AEW show.

2. Bryan Danielson

At Full Gear, Bryan Danielson certainly delivered opposite Miro but overall, I thought he took a relative backseat. There were many headlines, and Danielson wasn’t a major one but it didn’t take long to change that, as he immediately stole the show on Dynamite. Danielson’s promo was perfect, combining that with a dominant win over Evil Uno and perfectly setting the stage for his upcoming title shot.

3. Nyla Rose

For all her efforts on AEW’s C-Show programming, Nyla Rose’s last TV outings weren’t her strongest. That’s not even a criticism really, as some of those circumstances were limiting to say the least but either way, Rose felt slightly demoted in recent months. That made her performance on Dynamite all the more validating, as Rose returned to form on the promotion’s biggest stage, producing an impressive performance against Hikaru Shida.

4. MJF

Leaving Full Gear with his best bell to bell effort yet, MJF’s momentum didn’t slow for a second, pairing great promos and then arguably securing the week’s biggest story. Moving forward, MJF will seemingly be working opposite CM Punk and considering their comparable skillsets especially, there’s no bigger spot in truth. That development was almost certainly this week’s biggest, positioning MJF to continue his recent hot streak in the coming months.

5. Hangman Adam Page

The chase is one thing, but with its conclusion always comes a challenge. Now the champion, Hangman Adam Page looks to stay red hot and through one week, he couldn’t be better positioned to succeed. With just one segment under their belts, Hangman Page and Bryan Danielson cemented the belief that this was a blockbuster bout, heating things up with ease and immediately establishing a competitive, fiery dynamic.

League Leaders

Updated weekly, this is the result of our above categories. Below is your current top 20, the All Elite Fleet’s league leaders thus far. Tiebreaker is my preference, grow up.

  1. Bryan Danielson – 87 Points
  2. Eddie Kingston – 79 Points
  3. CM Punk – 66 Points
  4. Miro – 65 Points
  5. Jon Moxley – 63 Points
  6. Kenny Omega – 58 Points
  7. Nick Jackson – 56 Points
  8. Dax Harwood – 52 Points
  9. Penta El Zero Miedo – 50 Points
  10. Matt Jackson – 49 Points
  11. Rey Fenix – 49 Points
  12. Jungle Boy – 49 Points
  13. Darby Allin – 49 Points
  14. Hangman Adam Page – 47 Points
  15. Adam Cole – 47 Points
  16. MJF – 42 Points
  17. Christian Cage – 40 Points
  18. Orange Cassidy – 39 Points
  19. Pac – 37 Points
  20. Cash Wheeler – 36 Points

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